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Appeared on: Monday, July 17, 2000
CD-RW drives for notebooks in short supply

"...Customers looking to burn music CDs on notebooks are finding recordable drives, and the laptop computers themselves, nearly impossible to come by. In yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of component shortages, PC makers say there are virtually no CD-rewritable (CD-RW) drives to incorporate into already-announced notebooks that feature the popular option.

Compaq Computer, Dell Computer and Gateway today confirmed they are having trouble obtaining slimline CD-RW drives, the slimmer version of CD-RW drives used in notebooks. Gateway stopped selling the drives six weeks ago but hopes to resume shipments as early as next week. Though the supply of notebook CD-RW drives is critically short, desktop counterparts have also become difficult--but not impossible--to find.

The problem isn't so much demand, say executives and analysts, but supply. A shortage of RF amplifiers, chips that boost radio signals that are used inside the drives, has busted the manufacturing chain. Cell phones and handheld computers also contain RF amplifiers, which has exacerbated the supply problem as those devices grow in popularity. As a result, drive inventory is so tight that some PC manufacturers have stopped selling notebook CD-RW drives, at least temporarily.

As a short-term workaround, Gateway decided to ship notebooks without CD-RW drives and treat them as add-on orders to be fulfilled when units are available, said a company representative. The San Diego-based PC maker estimates that about 20 percent of notebooks it sells have CD-RW drives rather than CD-ROM or DVD drives. Besides the immediate notebook CD-RW drive shortages, the larger units used in desktop PCs are increasingly difficult to find..."



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